Friday, June 08, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #270 (June 8th, 2007)


Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.

15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.


Gradually getting caught up on the mail. HOW gradually? A letter from February 21 (yes, of this year, smart guy) from Scott Berwanger of the ANUBIS mega-project.

"Dear Dave

Just want to send in the latest then I've got to get on down the road. Looks like the long-term plan will be a regimen of five days at the office and two days in the studio, every seven days. Unfortunately, I am unable to work effectively in the studio for small windows of time, necessitating that I refrain from writing, drawing, painting, or even reading on office days. I want to try and keep my TV turned off as much as I can."

I hear you on that one, Scott. Had a quick check of my channel-surfing addiction when I had a hotel room in Columbus. As soon as the TV went on, that was it for everything else. Watched the D-Rays and the Yankees play baseball and watched most of Kevin Spacey's BEYOND THE SEA – which I had wanted to see from the time I first heard about it basically just to see how they handled the title tune (which turned out to be more of an overblown tribute to 50s musicals production number than the mood piece I see it as) which I have always been very fond of. Between those two and pure channel-surfing, channel-surfing, channel-surfing a good five hours of my life evaporated that I'll never get back.

"Although there may be the occasional day off or comic-book convention, it will be the exception and never the rule. I will also be reading something or other on the morning of each studio day. Want to go for short walks on nice days. That will likely be the pattern until either my health fails or I renounce The World of Men. I am pretty confident that I have enough ideas for a lifetime of art-making. And, yes, that will likely include painting at certain points, despite the ceaseless tug of war between IT and comics that I've been going through. I think that the dilemma can be resolved by taking a somewhat more moderate approach to art-making than what I have proven in the past. What's the rush? There should be no rush. Just need a smooth cycle of tempered diligence, attention to craftsmanship, and persistence. The ol' tortoise and the hare lesson…"

I don't know if you intended "what's the rush?" as a rhetorical question or not but as I've discovered and as I think you've discovered at various points along the way, the comic-book medium is a whole `nother animal when it comes to devouring time. I've taken a "what's the rush?" approach with my latest secret project and I'm at the point of having taken two years to produce a little under forty pages. Whether it's the best thing for Art or not I think facts need to be faced: you have to be more productive in the comic-book field than in any other I can think of (except, maybe, self-published animation) in order to barely show up on people's radar screens. The roughly forty pages I've produced in the last two years constitute maybe 30 minutes of reading for an average reader or 20 minutes of reading for a speed-reader like myself. Unless I can find a way to go faster on my next project[s] I'm going to have to face the fact that Cerebus Is It and apart from those six thousand pages, my Complete Oeuvre produced between now and when I die could be read in an hour or two. The more I look around at real, "real" and Real life the more I think I'm better served producing comic-book pages. It's an individual choice, of course.

Violating Chester's confidences, he's on page 23 of his new graphic narrative but in terms of the script/outline he wrote he should be on page 15. So, if that holds true on an on-going basis, his 200-page graphic novel will be a 300-page graphic novel. That didn't happen with LOUIS RIEL (where he sat down to map out a ten-issue story and it came out almost exactly to ten issues) which he was very philosophical about. "If it turns out to be 300 pages, it turns out to be 300 pages." Maybe it's just me, but as soon as I start thinking graphic novel, I start thinking: But how long is this going to take me to do and how many more of these am I going to be able to do?

"No plans for exhibiting paintings even though I will likely be making them upon occasion. And, interestingly enough, my decision to run Adventure Comics as a micro-press, haunting the small press convention circuit, and declining to self-publish, has been unfailingly steadfast. No tug of war THERE. Actually, I think it's probably one of the most practical ideas I've ever had. And comparing that to what I've been going through with painting vs. comics, I see it as a sign that I'm likely destined to take that road. Two things I will never do are sell-out artistically, or relinquish Adventure Comics' claim to ANUBIS as an intellectual property. Whether or not I make it is going to be immaterial given the current cultural climate here in the West. In a way, everyone who tries will "make it" but almost none of us will ever be famous. Personally, I could care less. Just love doing what I do. Hope some other folks think it's neat.

(Now all I need is a photocopier and a piece of cheap real estate)"

Speaking as someone who has both, that really is the biggest part of being Wealthy in the comic-book field. What else could a cartoonist want (besides, for most of them, a hot-looking girlfriend). Also, I'm optimistic about the medium's chances in the long term. For one thing, I don't think it can be successfully devoured by the Internet, unlike anything that can be digitized like movies or music or pure text. When Matt Dow mentioned getting a headache when he tried to read a McFarlane issue of Spider-man on his computer screen (having gotten a CD-Rom of the complete Spider-man), I think it points out the extent to which we barely grasp how intricate and idiosyncratic the process of reading a comic book is. I'm convinced that everyone reads comic books differently. Some people look at the overall page first and then focus on the first panel. Some people focus on the first panel's image and digest that and then read the word balloon or caption. Some people read the word balloons or captions first and then look at the image. Some people read all of the word balloons or captions and then look at the pictures or are barely aware of the pictures while they're reading. Some people look at the overall page, then the overall panel, then various details in the panel. To put it simply, the computer can't come close to aligning itself with any of these ways of reading sufficiently to duplicate our impression that reading a comic book is a passive experience like watching television or reading a book. To even come close to imitating how the human eye and mind engage in reading comics you would need a very complicated joystick and a lot of practice with it before you could make the comics-on-computers reading experience comparable to the real world comics reading experience. And it would still be limited. When you ZOOM IN on a panel in the real world, you can still see the rest of the page in the periphery of your vision. When you ZOOM IN on the computer, everything else disappears except what you've zoomed in on. When you PULL BACK you have to completely reorient yourself. It's like reading with blinders on.

I think in the next hundred years or so, we'll find that computer immunity of the sort that comic books have is an irreplaceable quality as a medium. We will, as a result, become more prominent but not because of any personal preference on the part of the general population, rather just because we will be in the select number of survivors that the computer couldn't eat.

We'll see. Thanks for writing and, as always, good luck with ANUBIS.

HEY! WADDAYAKNOW – WE'RE UP TO MARCH ALREADY!! Letter from Brian Lee Moore of indy film, DEMON JOE fame:

"Dear Dave:

It's good to hear from you again. I wasn't aware that you had a blog on the Internet. So I checked that out and then I found a lot of clips of you on YouTube. The God versus Spirituality piece was the most interesting in content and the Ye Bookes of Cerebus had multiple cameras for better editing. I kept wanting to run it through Adobe Audition to filter out all the camera noise. A lot of new video guys have that problem because they figure that if a camera comes with its own microphone then that should be good enough, but the gears and motor inside the camera are loud so you always need an external microphone. With doc work, I recommend a shotgun mic on a pistol mount and forego a boom of any kind."

Hunh. I didn't know that. I'm still trying to figure out the angle on YouTube, if it can be used to promote CEREBUS in some way or if it's just another thing that comics are immune to (and which is immune to comics). I suspect there is a small but growing constituency of people who are now able to pretty much live in comic-book land, between conventions, comic-book stores, podcasts and comic-book material on YouTube. That would've been me at age twelve all right.

"I had no idea of the sheer volume of letter writing you do until I saw it in the Collected Letters volumes and on the blog. It's very impressive. I use a lot of journal writing as part therapy and for scratch sketch work to build later writing off of. My letters end up being included in part of the journal as well as my script. They're all in document protectors and binders. I've got four milk crates stuffed and new 3" binders are getting filled just for this year. This is as close as I get to an archive. It's all there in ink going back to 1993 when I graduated from high school. Your archive sounds more like a museum with objects that would be described as artefacts rather than documents. A difficult task."

That is one of the stumbling blocks right now: comic books are just not in the category of warranting the storage space needed for Objects in addition to documents so I'm really, in one sense, fighting to stay alive long enough that Cerebus will be seen as important enough for the Objects to be included. Right now, the core audience for Absolutely Everything Cerebus is still pretty small but it still seems to me to make more sense to reprint all of the letters I wrote after Cerebus was done rather than try to put together a single Best Of volume as was the case with THE THURBER LETTERS that I am just coming to the end of. James Thurber wrote in the vicinity of a thousand letters a year for a good forty years so a single 800-page book is going to represent, at best, a very, very small fraction of his correspondence. But in the general book trade, that's going to be deemed to be your best shot. NEW YORKER fans, OSU graduates, fans of the William Windom MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT SitCom – you have to come up with enough folks willing to fork out $40 for 800 pages of Thurber (or $10 when it gets remaindered as it was here when Jeff bought it for me in a college bookstore). By doing 230-page volumes that are complete and exclusively available in the direct market I think I manage to cover both the general interest people who, somewhere along the way, will buy a Dave Sim COLLECTED LETTERS volume so that they have a representation in their collection as well as the completists who are willing to buy twelve volumes of COLLECTED LETTERS because they just plain have to have everything. It's a very specialized audience, the audience for collected letters volumes. Most people favour biographies. They want a biography to tell you someone's history in the form of a story with all the juicy parts told in excruciating detail. I got sold on collected letters when I was doing Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. All three came into much sharper focus in their correspondence than they did in the biographies I read of them.


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks? You can do so online through Win-Mill Productions -- producers of Following Cerebus. Convenient payment with PayPal:

Win-Mill Productions

Or, you can check out Mars Import:

Mars Import

Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.